The Annapolis Valley is in the western part of the Nova Scotia peninsula. It is formed by a trough between two parallel mountain ranges along the shore of the Bay of Fundy.
Towns and hamlets
- 1 Annapolis Royal — a settlement dating from the early 17th century, home to Fort Anne, Canada's oldest National Historic Site
- 2 Kentville — a regional centre of about 6,300 people
- 3 Windsor — home of an annual pumpkin festival (mid-Oct)
- 4 Wolfville — a good base for exploring the valley's wineries
- 1 Kejimkujik National Park — a National Historic Site and Dark-Sky Preserve in the rugged interior of the peninsula
Post-secondary education — Acadia University in Wolfville, and the Nova Scotia Community College campuses in Kentville, Middleton, Lawrencetown, and Digby — play an important role in the region. Michelin has an important truck tire manufacturing plant in Waterville and the Department of National Defence has its largest air force base in Atlantic Canada at CFB Greenwood along with an important training facility at Camp Aldershot, near Kentville.
Long settled by the Mi'kmaq Nation, the valley experienced French settlement at the Habitation at Port-Royal, near modern-day Annapolis Royal in the western part of the valley, beginning in 1605. From there, the Acadians spread throughout the valley, in various communities, building dykes to claim the tidal lands along the Annapolis and Cornwallis Rivers. They continued throughout the Annapolis Valley until the British-ordered expulsion of Acadians in 1755. New England Planters moved in to occupy the abandoned Acadian farming areas, and there was later settlement by Loyalist refugees of the American Revolutionary War, and be foreign Protestants. These were followed by significant numbers of freed Africans in the War of 1812, Irish immigrants in the mid-19th century and Dutch immigrants after World War II. Agriculture in the Annapolis valley boomed in the late 19th century with the arrival of the Windsor and Annapolis Railway, later the Dominion Atlantic Railway, which developed large export markets for Annapolis Valley apples.
The valley has a diversified agricultural industry, with a wide range of output ranging from livestock to fruit trees and berries.
Wolfville is 95 km from Halifax on Route 101. From Moncton, it is 325 km on NB 2, NS 104/NS102/NS101.
Halifax International is the closest major airport.
Kings Transit links many of the towns and villages of the Annapolis Valley, with service from Hants Border to Weymouth. An express service runs from Hants Border through Grand-Pre, Wolfville/Port Williams and North Kentville via Belcher Street to the Valley Regional Hospital and the Station Lane bus depot in downtown Kentville (Route 2/2A). The other main route (Routes 1/1A and 6/6A) run from the Wolfville Town Centre bus depot on Main Street, with stops in the commercial and business centres of New Minas, Kentville and Berwick to the Greenwood Mall, close to the 14 Wing Greenwood Royal Canadian Air Force base and the Atlantic Region Air Cadet Training Centre. The route from Kentville to Greenwood follows roughly along Highway 1 (the Evangeline Trail) through the communities of Coldbrook, Cambridge, Waterville and the villages of Aylesford and Kingston before terminating.
In Greenwood, a user may also transfer to a route from Greenwood to Bridgetown, via the town of Middleton at the heart of the Annapolis Valley. From the downtown of Bridgetown, the Kings Transit service continues onwards via Highway 1 (Evangeline Trail) to the village of Weymouth through the town of Annapolis Royal (home to Fort Anne National Historic Site), the town of Digby, where you can connect with an inter-provincial ferry service to Saint John, New Brunswick via Bay Ferries' MV Fundy Rose. Afterwards, along the Evangeline Trail, Kings Transit goes through the community of Cornwallis Park, which is home to the former Royal Canadian Navy base and Pearson Peacekeeping Centre, which has been repurposed as the Annapolis Basin Conference Centre and HMCS Acadia, the Atlantic Region Sea Cadet Training Centre.
The old Dominion Atlantic Railway, which was completed in 1869 and ran through the Annapolis Valley, but was since abandoned between the 1980s and early 1990s has been converted to a multi-use trail (hiking, biking, horses, snowmobiles, quads/ATVs) from Bridgetown to Berwick. There's a three-way junction in the trail in Middleton, where another abandoned rail line goes as far south as New Germany.
In Kentville, the trail becomes part of the town's Parks and Recreation system, where use by motor vehicles (motorcycles, motorized scooters, ATVs, snowmobiles, etc.) is strictly prohibited under noise and trail use bylaws enforced by the Kentville Police Service. Similar bylaws apply within the Town of Wolfville, where it is part of the Millennium Trail's Rail Trail extension located beside the idled Windsor and Hantsport Railway Company's property. Noise and trail use regulations are enforced by town bylaw officers with the cooperation of the Wolfville detachment of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The Grand-Pré National Historic Site, near Wolfville, tells the story of Le grand dérangement (the deportation of the Acadian people by the British 1755–1764) through engaging multimedia. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
1 Oaklawn Farm Zoo, 1007 Ward Road, Aylesford. Boasts the largest display of big cats and primates in Eastern Canada. Oaklawn's 50-acre zoo offers a relaxing atmosphere in a country like setting. You can stroll along and interact with a wide diversity of mammals, birds and reptiles. Oaklawn Farm Zoo features a large variety of endangered and threatened species of exotic, native and domestic breeds of animals. Fort Anne in Annapolis Royal is Canada's oldest National Historic Site. Fort Anne was the site of thirteen attacks, seven changes of hands, and the ratification of the Treaty of Boston.
Kejimkujik National Park has a fantastic lake for swimming, hiking trails that go for days, great backcountry camping (some sites accessible only by canoe or kayak), and some powered camping sites.
Events held around the region include:
- Apple Blossom Festival, held in late spring
- The Steer Bar-B-Que in Kingston in July
- The Heart of the Valley Festival in Middleton in July
- Mud Creek Days in Wolfville in August
- The Annapolis Valley Exhibition in Lawrencetown in August
- Bridgetown's Cider Festival comes in mid-September
- The Canadian Deep Roots Music Festival at the end of September in Wolfville
- Devour the Food Film Fest, an annual international film festival celebrating all things culinary, in late October in Wolfville and Kings County
- Farmers markets in Annapolis Royal, Bridgetown, Middleton, Kentville, Kingsport, Berwick and Wolfville bring a wealth of fresh produce and other fine goods to the public every week.
- Commercial St. Café, Commercial Street (across from the end of George Street), Middleton, Nova Scotia. Lunch only. A selection of four excellent Asian fusion dishes. The building's facade is misleading: look for what appears to be someone's house with a simple wooden sign that says "Cafe". $8 to $12.
- The End of the Line Pub, 73 Queen St., Bridgetown. The kitchen is often closed by 8:30PM. Good standard pub fare and great beers on tap, plus Asian Fusion and Tex-Mex nights on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Since the late 20th century, a wine industry has developed, with such notable wineries as Gaspereau Vineyards winning national and international awards for their product.